March 26, 2014, - 10:07 am

Top US Immigration Cop Retiring @ Age 47: Another Good Guy Jumps Ship Under Aimless Obama

By Debbie Schlussel

Yet another great law enforcement leader is leaving Homeland Security because, under Barack Obama, there’s not much to be done, especially in immigration, where Obama is hamstringing law enforcement agents’ efforts. Yesterday, James Dinkins, the Director of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced he’ll be retiring in April.



As longtime readers know, I know and am friendly with Jim. I knew this was coming for a while now, but I couldn’t say anything until he made his official announcement. But I was sad to hear it. It’s yet another instance of a good person at the Department of Homeland Security–where ICE is the largest agency–leaving under the Barack Obama administration. Jim would have made a great ICE chief, would have had the job, and could have remained at the agency almost another ten years (the mandatory retirement age for federal agents is 56, which has been increased to 57 for those who were born in 1970 or later). He is only 47, which is young for retirement even from the government, but who would want to stay at the frustrating, demoralized, bureaucratic Homeland Security under Obama, when the private sector awaits, and more things can actually be achieved there?

Jim, who is an expert at money laundering methods and how to stop it, was a career U.S. Customs Service Office of Investigation agent working investigations to stop Islamic terrorists and drug dealers from laundering money, and he was involved in many such investigations in Detroit. But, then, under the Bush-Joe Lieberman government reorganization and creation of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, a lot of the very successful, very effective terrorism money-laundering investigations that Customs agents performed under “Operation Greenquest” were shut down, and all authority to investigate terrorism was handed over to the FBI, where it languished and not much was done. I met Jim either just before or right after 9/11, when his then-boss, then-Customs Special Agent in Charge Gary Waugh, who I’d met at the DC airport on the way back to Detroit, introduced us. I and my late father had given the Detroit Customs office some good tips on various parties we thought were money laundering on behalf of Islamic terrorists. Gary said Jim and another agent, Bruno Genrich, were his best guys on this stuff and that they were great guys–that I needed to meet them. I learned a lot from all three of them and their very effective operations in stopping Islamic terrorists in Dearbornistan and beyond. It was exhilarating to watch because it was obvious they were dedicated to their work in helping keep America safe and terrorists on the defensive.

Since Jim was responsible for years for working with outside businesses and helping them identify and stop money laundering, I hope he’ll use those skills to help companies stop this stuff once he’s in the private sector. He’s very effective on this and knows his stuff. I saw how he and agents working under his leadership in Detroit stopped several Muslim-operated dollar and mail box stores who were laundering multi-millions of dollars to the Middle East and apparently to Islamic terrorists. And he is very knowledgeable on the operation of hawalas–Islamic money-transfer (and usually money-laundering) networks–through these businesses. The Justice Department–beginning under President Bush–stopped prosecuting these almost entirely, even though they are tremendous sources of financing for terrorist operations. Jim worked on cases involving these networks, which financed Al-Qaeda and HAMAS, as well as other Islamic terrorist groups. He has a wealth of experience in these areas, and it’s a shame the U.S. government basically dumped this stuff after 9/11 and the creation of DHS. Hopefully, he can put his skills in this and other areas to use as a private citizen.

Jim is a leader and a good guy, and he is almost universally well-liked and respected. He’s a mensch extraordinaire. And it’s sad that federal law enforcement–especially the Department of Homeland Security, which so desperately needs good people and good leadership–is losing someone like this so young, yet so experienced. Jim has literally been involved in law enforcement for decades, beginning as a college intern with the U.S. Customs Service Office of Investigations in 1986. He has accomplished a lot and achieved virtually everything he could do at ICE, except lead the agency. But who would want that headache under Obama?

And this is exactly the problem with the Obama Administation and Homeland Security. Almost every good agent I know is leaving at the earliest opportunity. That’s because of the the frustration and lack of support and direction. As Barack Obama adds layers and layers of difficulty to arrests and deportations of illegal aliens, there isn’t much to do or that can be done to enforce immigration laws. And immigrants are laughing at us. Jim did as much as he could under these constraints.

Islamic terrorists and other malefactors in America are safer without people like Jim Dinkins at the top of federal law enforcement. I wish him the best of luck and success out there. Sadly, the agency will be missing a very good and integrally important guy. But, again, that’s par for the course under Obama. All the good guys are leaving.

Here is Dinkins’ letter announcing his retirement to top ICE leadership and colleagues:

From: Dinkins, James A
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:34 PM Eastern Standard Time
To: Allen, Matthew C; Arnold, Claude P; Bench, Bradford A; Benner, Derek N; Erichs, Alysa; Foucart, Bruce; Hartwig, Gary J; Hayes, James; Janice Ayala (; Kelleghan, John P; Kumar Kibble (; Marwell, David M; McCormick, Susan L; McLees, Andrew; Melendez, Angel M; Miller, Marlon V; Moskowitz, Brian; Netherland, John M; Nicholson, Brock; Parmer, Raymond R; Rittenberg, Scot R; Settles, Clark E; Spero, James; Ulrich, Dennis; Wills, Wayne K; Winter, William L
Cc: Jackson, Brandie M; Connolly, John G (ICE-HSI); Kubiak, Lev J; LEIGH H Winchell (; Lembke, Traci A; Reeder, Frank N; Staci Barrera (; Susan McCormick – USICE (; Woods, John P
Subject: Thank You!

SACs [DS: Special Agents in Charge],

I want to let you know that I will be retiring at the end of April. I have been blessed to serve with you and know that HSI will continue to do great things. You are one of the best senior management teams ever to have graced a law enforcement agency, and I can’t wait to see where you will lead HSI in years to come.

While it is difficult to leave all of you when so many great things are happening, it gives me comfort to do so knowing that under your leadership, combined with the support of Deputy Director Ragsdale, Acting Director Winkowski, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Johnson, you’re going to continue to do great things!

While I still have a few weeks and a full schedule, upon my departure please continue to provide Pete the overwhelming support you have in the past. While you’re welcome to share this news with your staff, I plan on sending an email to all of HSI in the days ahead. I know transitions can be challenging, but I doubt HSI will miss a beat. Keep up the great work as the world is increasingly recognizing our efforts and in awe of your accomplishments!

God bless, be safe, and keep in touch.


James A. Dinkins

Executive Associate Director

Homeland Security Investigations
Immigration & Customs Enforcement
Department of Homeland Security
500 12th Street SW, 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20536

One other thing: Jim and everyone else in Homeland Security–including Secretary Jeh Johnson–reads this site, especially when I write about what’s going on at the agency and at ICE. Jim was the only one they authorized to speak with me on the record (everyone else talks to me off the record). Jim would constantly get requests from top ICE officials to contact me to “clarify” this or that, and he never abused his friendship with me by doing that. But he always responded to me and answered my questions, defending his agents and their work at every opportunity. . . even when I mocked him on this site. The guy is a true professional, a gentleman, and a class act. Any private company will be lucky to have him.

Congrats and Good Luck, Jim!

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20 Responses

There are reasons why someone so good at their job, and in a position which they enjoy so much, would leave at age 47. One is an offer too good to refuse. The other is what Debbie has pointed out in her article. Continuance is simply futile, because . . .

In such an organization,
Even great men like Mr. Dinkins,
Cannot prevent the inevitable,
Namely, the ship from sinkin’.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on March 26, 2014 at 10:21 am

He’s better off leaving. Working in that kind of atmosphere with those clowns can injure a person’s health, even someone only in their 40s.

Little Al on March 26, 2014 at 10:54 am

Debbie, when you say Bush started shutting down the task force who monitored Moslem money laundering, do you mean 43 or 41? Both are lovers of Islam, and Bush 41 has had even more ties to the Arabs thru his oil business connections. Many believe he, and not President Reagan, was the goof who sent antitank missiles to Iran and Bush 41 oversaw the Iran in Iran-Contra.
Not to mention Prescott Bush, the father of 41, claimed he desecrated Geronimo’s grave to get a skull fo the Skull and Bones pukes at Yale. Prescott’s bank money-laundered for the Nazis until they were broken in WWII, and Prescott also raised money for Planned Parenthood at the request of racist bisexual Margaret Sanger (another ant-Semite) after WWII.

Kevin on March 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

Retired at 47? 50 is the minimum age for retirement.

Federale (@Federale86) on March 26, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Incorrect you can leave a 6c retirement position at any age with 25 years of LEO service. It appears he has it since he was in since mid to late 1980s. I envy him he will escape the craziness of Federal Law Enforcement. I wish him well!

    CI on May 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I guess that’s not the case with this cluster of an adminisration….

IceNoMore on March 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Federal law enforcement can retire after age 50 with 20 covered years, or at any age with 25 or more covered years of service.

Dave on March 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Whatever the age/years of eligibility, pull the pin and get out if you can. It’s past goin’ down the shi**er!

IceNoMore on March 26, 2014 at 3:46 pm

This is not good – golden hand shake?

Frankz on March 26, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Not even 1 person claped his/her hands following his Boring “lecture” in Brussles today. Wasting tax money coming to Europe, the same Europe that freezes to death unless they get Putin’s Heating gas.

Simon on March 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

From my understanding Dinkins is getting a job for $375K/year with a company that is getting, or has gotten, a multi-million dollar contract with HSI to develop a computer database. I hope that isn’t true. If it is true, it means Dinkins sold out his country for a few pieces of gold. My recollection is that there is a two year “cooling off” period which prohibits former government employees from accepting positions with companies that they were formerly involved in granting contracts to. Again, if true, hopefully the IG will get involved and put a stop to it.

Dinkins also furthered the current administration’s implementation of de facto amnesty by not allowing HSI to enforce immigration laws, which is dereliction of duty. Instead, Dinkins should have upheld the law that he was sworn to enforce, and told the administration that if they did not like it to seek to change the law through legislative means.

As for his replacement, it will be more of the same management lap dogs—Edge, Kibble, Ayala, etc.

King David on March 26, 2014 at 8:17 pm

While I do not doubt the enforcement issues Debbie writes about, in his letter, Dinkins omits his frustrations concerning them. I’d like to read his experienced frustrations and criticisms of the HSI

Red Randy on March 27, 2014 at 6:40 am

Gone the way of real soldiers that were in the military. This corrupt government wants unquestioning robots.

unholyone on March 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

America … becoming the greatest third world country on the planet!

Pray Hard on March 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

The greatest 3rd world country? Reminded of the old slogan from Avis Car Rental: “We try harder”. This administration’s slogan could be “We LIE harder”.

Michael Stanley on March 27, 2014 at 11:05 am

@Federale – Negative, sir … Under FERS, 25 years service at any age or 20 years service at age 50 … He’s just at KMA age out of college.

StillShakingMyHead on March 27, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Sad to see him go, he did a good job, for the most part, in spite of the obstacles and clowns that stood in the way. He is old school Customs. On the bright side, he will do more good for our country in the private sector, less restrictions, bureaucracy, and clowns to inhibit him, and he’ll do mostly Customs related work, no one gives a scheize about immigration in the post federal agent retirement world, it’s all about Customs related stuff. Things are looking up.

MF Jones on March 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

Don’t know what kind of good he is going to do for our country when working for the private sector to teach them how to evade, ahem…meet compliance with customs and banking laws. The private sector is not truly concerned with preventing money laundering, just covering their asses.

FWFW, I don’t think his retirement has anything to do with his frustrations over immigration law enforcement and investigations, or problems with administration policy. He has been all too happy to move certain functions to ERO (a good and smart thing) and decrease alien smuggling and immigration fraud investigations (IMHO, a bad thing). Dinkins cared not a wit if immigration investigations fell completely off the map, unless it was something politically popular like human trafficking or child labor. As for terrorism related money laundering investigations, it is true the FBI stole our lunch (though they’ve done nothing with it), but it’s not like he saw that work disappear while leading HSI. From what I’ve heard he still enjoyed the job (as much as anyone can enjoy that much work and pressure).

Dinkins left because he has 25 years in, there was no financial benefit to staying in longer, has a youngish family and – like anyone – could use extra money. Combine his retirement benefits with a private sector salary he is in great shape. Why not get out now than have to deal with a stooge like Winkowski?

Good for him, he worked a long, hard, and full career and deserves to strike while the iron is hot. He leaves with a good reputation and the good will of those that worked under him and a legacy of being well liked and respected. I’d bet everyone would like to have the same said about themselves when they leave. MF, don’t hold your breath though.

please on March 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm

At least he did something in his career at Customs/ICE/HSI/Whatever’s Happening Now. What’s the difference between him retiring at 47 for a lucrative private sector job and a former GS-12 ins grunt that’s now a GS-15/SES with no experience other than extraordinary ass kissing capabilities? The theme at this Clown agency has been transformed to how much can I get before I retire, and get it just because I can. There is no merit promotion, no need to do your job according to the job description for the criminal investigator position. Just show up every day, plan your lunch with the boss, always gossip about what time the other agents come and go, and voila, you are promotion material. Oh, and it helps if you speak English in a gibberish sort of way, and have bad breath, develop office romances, and bromances, join the softball team, and of course, kiss boss ass. That is the only experience and job development necessary.

MF Jones on April 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Jim is a good guy, but more importantly, Jim was a Special Agent that worked (earned) his way up the ladder. Special Agents in the field respected him, which is not the case for many others in HSI and ICE management. There are very few in HSI and ICE management that have earned their positions (read there work bios, the real Special Agents have). Jim was one of them. The others in management can’t see to figure out why moral at HSI is so low. Here is a hint…read your own biography. Be honest, and ask yourself, “If I was a person that earned my position, would I hire me?” The bigger problem, the one that congress needs to address is this. HSI; the Special Agent/Criminal Investigative position; the Former INS and CUSTOMS Special Agents; are charged with investigating all Customs and Immigration violations. Previous to the merger (2003), Customs Officers (now under CBP) and Immigration Officers (Adjudicators and all others now under USCIS and IEA’s and Deportation Officers now under ICE/ERO) were REQUIRED to turn violations over to their respective Special Agents (This almost never happens now!!! In fact, getting their cooperation is like pulling teeth!). These were the field Officer Corps positions; the Special Agents were the Criminal Investigators; Criminal Investigations drove the ship. Those in the Officer Corps fully supported the Criminal Investigators because most of them were striving to become one. As a result, there was a great camaraderie at both agencies. The merger was a good thing IMO, however the break up of the chain of command was not, in fact it was detrimental! Until such time as the good of America is place first and foremost; and, there is a reorganization that places all officer corps position back under Criminal investigations (HSI on top; USCIS, ERO, and CBP underneath); the purpose of having these organizations is moot! As it is, nothing works. Hopefully, a high ranking member of congress, or presidential candidate is reading this because this is the ONLY WAY to make these respective agencies work, and to keep America, our Republic, safe.

Marcus Tullius on June 4, 2014 at 11:25 am

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